The moment Avery woke up that quiet morning, there was something heavy weighing on her chest. She tossed and turned all night with anticipation for what was coming the following day. She knew what was going to happen. Everyone did. She lived in a small town where nothing happened and when something did happen, everyone knew about it.
For months Avery had been filled with inner turmoil leading up until this day. Among the various issues that she had due to intense family obligations, she also had problems with a lot of the people in town. People who didn’t like her because of mistakes her family had made. Some of Avery’s peers made it their mission to make her life miserable. To prove that they were better than her and her family.
Without meaning to, without wanting to, Avery found herself isolating. She grew distant from her friends, those who cared about her. One morning she woke up and she felt so alone, she didn’t know what to do with herself. She wanted to cry, scream out to the world, rant about her issues, but she found herself looking at her phone not knowing who to call.
But that day was the day. She was going to face her demons head-on. She was going to take control. She set a date and a time with the people who made her life miserable, and the whole town was coming to watch. Avery wasn’t going to back down. No, she got up and put on her warpaint. She wasn’t afraid anymore. She had felt what it was like to be alone. What else was there to lose?
When the time rolled around, Avery climbed into her rusty old car and headed to the meet. She was the first one there. She was antsy and couldn’t wait to get this over with, so she might’ve gotten there just a little bit early.
She climbed out of her car and rounded to the front, leaning against the bumper with a foot resting on the grill. Anxiously, she picked at her fingernails.
Through the quiet, eeriness of the forest, she could hear chatter coming closer to her. Avery looked up just in time to see people coming around the corner. It was a group of girls, maybe six in total. They were all Avery’s friends. Were being the operative word. One girl stood in the front of the group, a head above the rest. She met Avery’s eyes. At the sight of the girls, Avery straightened, raising her head, looking defiant. Had they come just to watch her fall? No, she couldn’t believe that.
“What are you doing here?” Avery asked the girl in front.
Sade’s eyes were hard as she took in Avery. While Avery knew that Sade wasn’t here for fun, she had a hard time believing Sade was there in support of her. She knew Sade well, and once you burned a bridge, Sade’s in particular, there was no going back. And yet, here was Sade. And all of the rest of Avery’s old friends. Even two girls that Avery hadn’t seen in nearly a year. Yet, there they were.
“What do you think we’re doing here?” Sade asked while raising an eyebrow.
Avery opened her mouth to say something, but words fell short and she stood there like a fish not sure what to do.
Margo, Sade’s cousin, stepped around Sade.
“You didn’t think we’d let you go through this alone, did you?” She asked Avery.
“I – “ Avery stuttered for words.
Sade rolled her eyes.
“The shit you’ve got going on, whatever it is, you don’t have to go through it alone,” She said. “We’re all here for you.”
Tears blurred Avery’s vision, and she looked away. A chill went through her and she desperately wanted to wrap her arms around herself. She looked back at the girls, at every one of them. After all that time, after all that pushing, they had still shown up. They still had Avery’s back. Pride, hope, love, it all beamed through Avery as she looked at her friends.
“I’m sorry,” she said, meeting Sade’s eyes once more. Sade shrugged.
“Don’t be sorry. Be better.”
Avery nodded, taking in the words.
“Yo, Avery! We doin’ this or what?” A voice rang out through the woods. They all turned to see the group a few yards away from them.
Sade and Avery shared a look.
“Ready?” Sade asked her best friend.
A grin slid onto Avery’s face. “Let’s do this.”